The lungs are located inside the rib cage and are made up of spongy tissue. They bring in oxygen from the air and expel carbon dioxide (which is a waste product of cell metabolism) from the body. The lungs contain air sacs called alveoli where the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanges take place. The lungs also filter out small blood clots formed in the veins and act as a surrounding cushion for the heart.
The body's nervous system controls breathing. Nerve cells also sense irritants such as pollen, smoke, dust, or mucus and produce a coughing response. Coughing causes air to be rapidly expelled from the lungs hopefully removing the offending substance.
There are many conditions and diseases that involve the lungs. Asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, tuberculosis, cystic fibrosis, collapsed lung, apnea, pulmonary edema, pneumonia, and cancer are some of the most common. (According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women.)
Symptoms of lung problems include coughing, chest pain, blood, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, unexplained fatigue, and rapid weight loss. Causes include infection, smoking, air pollution, vitamin A deficiency, and suppressive over-the-counter cold and congestion remedies that don't allow the lungs to function.
A mucous cleansing diet is great for the lungs and includes lots of citrus fruit, apricots, peaches, plums, fresh juices, lemon water, vegetables, salads, brown rice, yogurt, herbal teas, fish, and seafood. Anyone with lung problems should avoid all dairy products except yogurt.
Many herbs are considered excellent remedies for lung problems. Licorice, marshmallow, pleurisy root, thyme, coltsfoot, catnip, elecampane, gingko biloba, rosemary, comfrey, and mullein are all good choices whether alone or combined.
Mullein is a favorite remedy for lung conditions and grows wild in the North Georgia Mountains. Mullein leaves and flowers are used to treat bronchitis, colds, flu, emphysema, and laryngitis. Mullein tinctures, teas, and syrups help bring up sticky phlegm. Mullein is used to fight bacteria and helps inhibit the spread of flu viruses. In cases of chronic respiratory problems, mullein should be combined with mulberry bark, cowslip root, elecampane, viola, anise, or thyme. Mullein is considered a mild sedative and an excellent expectorant. When using mullein to treat coughs due to colds, combine with horehound and lobelia.
When using mullein in tea form, use one cup of water to two teaspoons of dried, crumbled leaf and flowers. Steep fifteen minutes and then strain through a fine cloth. Drink three to four cups of mullein tea per day. As with all herbs, many doses throughout the day are best.
Chest and lung problems sometimes occur after a traumatic emotional experience. Grief and sorrow can greatly affect the lungs. Chest infections tend to strike when we feel “down and out” or depressed. A gentle chest massage can do much to soothe and heal in these cases. Use good carrier oil with eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, or tea tree essential oil for best results.
* Do not take large doses of licorice in cases of high blood pressure. Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy.
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